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Joanna Komorowska, of an anthropologist who became a fantasy writer Ursula LeGuin Lyndon. Hardy s Master of Five Magics 1980 a work consciously and openly alluding. to its own character of quest narrative and then to Ann McCaffrey s hybrid. extravaganza that is the Dragonriders series to be precise to the most widely. known installment of the series i e the Dragonflight 1968 The use of such. varied and stylistically different material will I hope demonstrate certain. continuity existing throughout the genre as such a continuity quite clearly. linked to traditional filiations of fantasy, Finally on the methodological point my interest lies in the position. of spoken word in the worlds of fantasy not necessarily in the presence. of oral transmission in fantastic universes or the employment of elements. known from the existing remnants of the oral epoch in the fantasy genre. Let me begin by briefly explaining what I am looking for as convincingly. demonstrated by Detienne oral societies tend to privilege certain kinds. of speech over everyday talk it is especially prominent in the case of royal. decrees including lawgiving acts of judgment etc ritual and magical. formulae and last but not least poetic speech Effectively both kings and. poets to these two classes one can add priests and mages speak truly and. truthfully the world being correspondent to the reality woven with their. words In a simplified version we could say that in the case of kings priests. and mages world in a way adjusts to their words a law creates reality much. in the same manner an incantation does while the poet speaks the truth. about the world as this latter is the performative force of kingly magical. speech finds its counterpart in the descriptive truthfulness of the poet. They both manifest an unusual level of knowledge as both king and poet. seem privy to the rules governing the universe to the divine wisdom in. poetry this is manifested by Muse inspired omniscience in royal decrees. and commands by the adaptation of the universal rule by implementation. of justice as translated into the mortal terms3 Thus to invoke an ancient. example Hesiod s famed encounter with the Muses on Mount Helicon in. the opening verses of the Theogony v 22 35 is a vivid illustration of his. On the issue cf respectively Detienne 1996 39 67 J P Vernant 2006 115. 139 Some important observations are also made in two studies of Hesiodic poetry. J M Duban 1980 and K B Stoddard 2003 For the efficacy and performative force. of magical speech c f H S Versnel 2002,158 2018 Za cznik Kulturoznawczy nr 5. Masters of Truth in the Middle Earth, superior status of the fact that his knowledge and hence his words is true. and infallible On the other hand the kings at least according to Homer are. descended from Zeus himself the ultimate ruler of the universe whose word. equals law among the immortals It is striking that this superior position. of both the king and the lawgiver survives in Plato though the supreme. knowledge belongs to philosophers alone while poets together with. other practitioners of the imitative arts are relegated to the sixth place. the displacement manifest in the Phaedrus 248c 249b. Let us consider the Tolkien s universe as described in the LOTR. trilogy The world is quite manifestly removed from orality writing being. of paramount importance in the story witness the inscription on the ring. itself yet even at the most superficial level the presence of song and. the songs importance within the framework of the story is remarkable. When in need of proof the characters within the story are wont to quote. poems poems are also used for prophesying and credited with imparting. truth even when the words themselves remain unrecognizable The last. phenomenon can be illustrated by invoking the example of Legolas as he. listens to Aragorn s rendition of the Song of Eorl in the King of the Golden. Hall chapter of the Two Towers Though incapable of understanding. the language of the Rohirrim the age old elf remarks I cannot guess what. it means save that it is laden with the sadness of the Mortal Men Strikingly. this is the same impression that is conveyed by the wording itself Where. is the horse and the Rider Where is the horn that was blowing Such is. the power of the song that the truth about the sadness of passing the pain. of human limitedness and ephemerality permeates its melody so that it is. communicated to the immortal being The semantic content is thus imparted. even without the recipient being cognizant of the actual language in which. the poem was composed truth being in a way self revealing in the very. arrangement of its constitutive elements, Let us however consider the more obvious instances of song s truthfulness.
this will be probably best illustrated by some of the songs featuring in. the tales of the Silmarillion Thus for example the tale of Beren ch 19 Of. Beren and L thien tells a story of the elven king Finrod battling his great. adversary Sauron Gorthaur As they duel Finrod sings about the world s. origin about the birth of Valinor and the beauty that once existed His. song is true the image conveyed is one of innocence and perfection and. www zalacznik uksw edu pl 159,Joanna Komorowska, for a time he is able to stave off Sauron s fury yet he loses The important. point is that this loss is directly connected to both the nature of the song. and to its truthfulness as the tale unravels he reaches the point of rift. loss of innocence end of an era i e the slaughter in Alqualonde The logic. of the song its truthfulness dictate that he must reach this point its very. nature making it impossible to circumvent the danger or indeed to lie. effectively the song retains its power as long as it is true but in being true. it defeats its own purpose thus translating into Finrod s defeat much as. the slaughter caused the exile of the Noldor race Ironically the song he sings. appears to be the same which served to unite elves and men during their first. encounter as Felagund encounters the recently born humans he conciliates. their hearts with the cosmological narrative ch 12 Of Men Considering. the image from the theoretical standpoint we may easily see the historical. parallel this is the Sumerian celebration of new year with its recitation. of Enuma Elish the near paradigmatic instance of common experiencing. of shared history with the figure of singer serving as a pivot and a founding. stone of human society Furthermore this cosmic song employed with such. a skill by the elven king may precisely because of its essential truthfulness. be taken to form the direct reflection of the song of Eru true in virtue of its. creative power The song of Eru as we remember brings forth the universe as. it is shaping all that the world is one cannot but think of the affinities with. the creative effort of the poet writer No note can be false in the sense of not. being becoming true all that is sung reflects Iluvatar s plan and nothing. remains without its real counterpart cf ch 1 Of the Beginning of Days. Yet let us return to the meeting between Finrod and men Its importance. appears twofold while the song is employed for the conciliating character. of its melody in keeping with the old Pythagorean principle that music can. be employed to modify behavior the author s emphasis is on the content. Apparently during this fateful meeting Finrod endows the mortals with. knowledge of shared origin imparting to them a sense of what is shared. and hence of community hence of the Greek koinon In doing this he. provides men with experience of the past experience considered crucial. in shaping the group identity4 Hence he effectively performs the defining. One is thus reminded of the non societal character of the Odyssey s Lotophagi. as described by Pierre Vidal Naquet 1998 39 60 with no memory of past events. 160 2018 Za cznik Kulturoznawczy nr 5,Masters of Truth in the Middle Earth. duty of the singer Hardly surprisingly the future fates of men remain linked. to those of the elven folk the development of human civilization following. upon this original encounter Nothing could be more removed from this. than the human experience with Morgoth s servants stealthily abducting. men into the night in order to torture their bodies into a new misshapen. shape The truth of Finrod s song serves to unite and empower while those. in the shade of Utumno appear denied the benefits of sage speech. Now for the singer s privileged epistemic status and his superior. understanding let us consider the famous victory banquet of The Return. of the King held upon the completion of Frodo s long quest The Field. of Cormallen the ring has been destroyed the two hobbits are reunited. with other members of the Fellowship they are effectively newly returned. from Mordor with no chance to exchange news or story of their long toils. and labors Yet at the banquet a minstrel stands up to sing a tale of Frodo. of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Power This is the tale Samwise dreamt. about the tale of their quest which simultaneously forms an important. not to say crucial part of the LOTR trilogy indeed in a way the minstrel. sings the LOTR tale which contributes to the irony of the situation the tale. is ultimately told by a highly literate Oxford don How does the minstrel. know the entirety of the story described in the tale we never learn yet in. a striking repetition of the famed scene of the Odyssey the two protagonists. of the quest are suddenly put in direct contact with their own legend in. fact they are immortalized before their own eyes their fame assuring them. a place in human and elvish memory Effectively their efforts became the part. of the Middle Earth sung history this is a step of paramount importance as. the narrator of The Silmarillion frequently invokes the authority of a poetic. source in order to assert the truth of his own narrative5 It is precisely. to such a song that King Theoden aspires in his defense of Helm s Deep. as he leads his exhausted troops into what he deems to be the last battle. as confirmed by his words their hope is to die in a manner that deserves. they have no sense of shared past no thought beyond the present and hence they. experience no feeling of community, This is particularly manifested in chapter 19 Of Beren and L thien. www zalacznik uksw edu pl 161,Joanna Komorowska, its own song i e memory Helm s Deep 6 This is particularly striking. given the immortalizing function of the song as understood in the ancient. society equaling memory its truthfulness bestows light and remembrance. glory and recognition the only kind of immortality available to a mortal. being7 Invoking another aspect of the same pattern in the chapter Treebeard. Fangorn informs Merry and Pippin that hobbits as such have made it. into the song of ents this particular tale being carefully and after much. consideration adapted to newly acquired knowledge Containing within. itself all the information about the Middle earth the song of ents reflects. the truth of the world Given this exhaustive descriptiveness it is improper. to be hasty in introducing any changes to its wording after all the song s. purpose is to reflect andmirror the actual Middle earth8. As I have said above according to Detienne aletheia is a quality. manifested not only by the poetic but also by the royal speech In Tolkien s. work the tendency is exemplified in the persons of Aragorn and Faramir. two direct descendants of Numenor kings it is inconceivable that they lie. a fact underlined by Faramir s behavior with regard to the ring The Window. on the West 9 Throughout the story the same holds true of Aragorn whose. His actual words are as follows the highlight is mine The end will not be. long But I will not end here taken like an old badger in a trap Snowbane and. Hasufel and the horses of my guard are in the inner court When dawn comes. I will bid men sound Helm s horn and I will ride forth Will you ride with me then. son of Arathorn Maybe we shall cleave a road or m a k e s u c h a n e n d a s w i l l. b e w o r t h a s o n g i f a n y b e l e f t t o s i n g o f u s h e r e a f t e r Tolkien. On the truthfulness as memory etc c f Detienne 1996 45 51 on the immor. talizing aspect of memory c f M Clarke 2004 74 90, Interestingly the image of ent song the all encompassing account of all that.
exists returns in much later work of Don Sakers All Fall Down 1988 The memory. keeping song immortalized hlutr one notes are the only beings capable of pro. ducing and modifying genetic code a fact that enables them to save all world from. Their false counterparts Boromir and Denethor both fail and in both cases. the failure relates to their complicated relationship with the truth most particu. larly the truth of their own position and of ancient alliances First and foremost. both father and son experience considerable strain when dealing with the truth. 162 2018 Za cznik Kulturoznawczy nr 5,Masters of Truth in the Middle Earth. word appears to be his bond The rule is best put by Denethor s younger. son himself We are truth speakers we men of Gondor 2001 665 Standing. at the opposite end among the villains of the land of Rohan Saruman as. well as his servant Grima the Wormtongue are both characterized by. their deceitfulness and extreme dislike of truth effectively even Saruman s. Hardy s Master of Five Magics a work consciously and openly alluding to its own character of quest narrative and then to Ann McCarey s hybrid extravaganza that is the Dragonriders series to be precise to the most widely known installment of the series i e the Dragonight e use of such

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